Catholic higher education

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Main building of the Catholic University in Ruzomberok, Slovakia Budova katolicka univerzita v ruzomberku.JPG
Main building of the Catholic University in Ružomberok, Slovakia
Catholic University of Toulouse, Toulouse, France Ancienne fonderie de canons - Institut catholique de Toulouse.jpg
Catholic University of Toulouse, Toulouse, France
Chapel of the faculty of medicine of Saint Joseph University, Beirut, Lebanon Chapel of the faculty of medicine of Saint Joseph University, Beirut.jpg
Chapel of the faculty of medicine of Saint Joseph University, Beirut, Lebanon

Catholic higher education includes universities, colleges, and other institutions of higher education privately run by the Catholic Church, typically by religious institutes. Those tied to the Holy See are specifically called pontifical universities.


By definition, Catholic canon law states that "A Catholic school is understood to be one which is under control of the competent ecclesiastical authority or of a public ecclesiastical juridical person, or one which in a written document is acknowledged as Catholic by the ecclesiastical authority" (Can. 803). Although some schools are deemed "Catholic" because of their identity and a great number of students enrolled are Catholics, it is also stipulated in canon law that "no school, even if it is in fact Catholic, may bear the title 'Catholic school' except by the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority" (Can. 803 §3).

The Dominican Order was "the first order instituted by the Church with an academic mission", [1] founding studia conventualia in every convent of the order, and studia generalia at the early European universities such as the University of Bologna and the University of Paris. In Europe, most universities with medieval history were founded as Catholic. Many of them were rescinded to government authourities in the Modern era. Some, however, remained Catholic, while new ones were established alongside the public ones. The Catholic Church is still the largest non-governmental provider of higher education in the world. Many of them are still internationally competitive. According to the census of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, the total number of Catholic universities and higher education institutions around the world is 1,358. On the other hand, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops counts it at 1,861. The Catholic religious order with the highest number of universities around the world today is the Society of Jesus with 114. [2]

Like other private schools, Catholic universities and colleges are generally nondenominational, in that they accept anyone regardless of religious affiliation, nationality, ethnicity, or civil status, provided the admission or enrollment requirements and legal documents are submitted, and rules and regulations are obeyed for a fruitful life on campus. However, non-Catholics, whether Christian or not, may or may not participate in otherwise required campus activities, particularly those of a religious nature.

Partial list of universities











Burkina Faso




Public universities that continue to claim Catholic affiliation

Catholic institutions affiliated or federated to public universities

Private Catholic universities




Congo, Democratic Republic of

Costa Rica



Czech Republic

Dominican Republic

East Timor


El Salvador















See alsoVatican

Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)
















New Zealand






Papua New Guinea




There are more than 40 universities — besides many colleges — in the Philippine Catholic Church. Among these universities are:


In Poland also work faculties of theology in some public universities.


Puerto Rico



Sierra Leone




South Africa

South Sudan


Sri Lanka










United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

United States

There are 244 Catholic higher education degree-granting institutions in the United States. [3] Among the most well known are:







Academic rankings

Some of the universities, including Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, are ranked in the top list of universities according to the Times Higher Education journal. [4] There is so far no list of academic rankings of Catholic universities. In the United States, U.S. News & World Report magazine provides the Best Colleges ranking; University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University, and Boston College have been scored as top Catholic national universities.

See also

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  1. Pirerre Mandonnet, "Order of Preachers" Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913; Accessed 12-31-12
  2. Sophia University
  3. "Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities". Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
  4. "The University Rankings 2010", The World University Rankings